Esther Dyson does business as EDventure Holdings, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004. In the last few years, she has turned her sights towards IT and health care. She dedicated two issues of her newsletter, Release 1.0, to the topic (Health and Identity: No Patient Left Behind? in January 2005 and Personal Health Information: Data Comes Alive! in September 2005). Also in September 2005, she ran the Personal Health Information workshop that laid out many of the challenges still perplexing the health-care community.
Currently, she is on the board of directors of 23andMe and is one of the initial ten subjects of George Church's Personal Genome Project. Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary), Eventful.com, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, and WPP Group and Yandex (Russia).
Some of her past direct IT investments include Flickr, Del.icio.us, BrightMail, Medstory and Orbitz. Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90's. In 1997, she wrote Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, which appeared in paperback a year later as Release 2.1. In 1994, she wrote a seminal essay on intellectual property for Wired magazine.
Question: How would you update your 1997 book Release 2.0?
Esther Dyson: I wouldn’t update it that much which I am proud to say and sometimes I read stuff that people put out now is a new stuff and actually I wrote some of that back in ‘97 or even before that I think the one thing that has full surprised in to pointed me as how little people seem to take control of their own, their own persona on the net there is a lot of talk about privacy and back in 1997 and still now I think people should be more we are this more active in just take more time managing their presence on line, it is beginning to happen face book with it’s privacy controls lot of this controversy of that privacy now as making people understand that oh, there is such asset they should mange and you could say well I don’t want to bother to manage this asset, I want things to be the way they were, and same way I don’t want to keep all these records so that I have to pay taxes and I don’t want to manage all the paper work around my health care life is complicated. And life on line is complicated in that way too if you are going to scatter your presence out a minute then the either you are responsible for it or some one else can do what they want with it and it is, it is a new capability but every asset is a liability and disguise and every capability is a responsibility and discuss.
Question: What has held true in the last decade?
Esther Dyson: The importance of stuff on line in the first place the excitement of the accessibility of information, the importance of two way it is not simply oh, I can go get information on the internet but oh, I can go post information on the internet I can communicate with other people, the erosion of central authority, the erosion of the official story whether it is true or not true it is cuts both ways and this whole thing about content will become de facto free not because it has no value but because it is so easy to get hold of and the way to make money then it is a think of new business models like services what personal attention what waiting for the accuracy and reliability of the information getting it quickly filtering all those kinds of things so it is the curation of the content rather than the content itself that you can try toward and that has all come to fashions bits.
Recorded on: 03/21/2008